Longview author Lottie Guttry's fast-paced historical novel "Alligator Creek" (Brown Books, $24.99 hardcover) is based on the story of her great-great-grandmother during and after the Civil War.
Set in Florida and Texas, the story focuses on Sarah and Alex Browning and their young family - a boy, a girl, and one on the way - as hostilities between the North and South heat up in early 1862.
Able-bodied men like Alex Browning are expected to do their duty and go to war for the "cause." Sarah is opposed to having her husband leave their Florida farm and their family for a "foolish war" she doesn't believe is worth the probable cost.
But Alex feels compelled and signs up, fully anticipating that the South will win quickly and he will be home in a few months.
Of course, the war drags on for three more years and the toll in human suffering is catastrophic. While Alex fights overwhelming odds to survive, Sarah struggles to keep the farm solvent and the family hopeful in the face of increasing turmoil and hardship.
When the war finally ends, the family's trials and tribulations do not, and eventually the Browning family joins a wagon train headed for Texas.
Guttry attributes the idea for the book to a graduate class she took at Stephen F. Austin University in which the professor assigned students to learn and write about a family legend.
The story, told from Sarah's and Alex's points of view, is a real page-turner. I literally picked it up one morning and read the whole 350-page saga in one day, certainly a rarity for me.
Prolific author Bill Crider of Alvin has a new mystery featuring small-town Texas sheriff Dan Rhodes, one of the more laid-back and likeable peace officers you'll come across.
"Survivors Will Be Shot Again" (Minotaur, $25.99 hardcover) is the 23rd title in his Sheriff Rhodes series. As always, Crider keeps the reader entertained with his collection of local characters and the various major and minor crimes the sheriff must investigate.
Learn more about Crider and his wide range of interests on his web site, billcrider.com.
Practical Advice for Musicians
Syndicated radio host D. Grant Smith of Clyde has written a practical guide for independent musicians - "The DIY Musician's Radio Handbook" (Clear Fork Publishing, $17.50 paperback, $2.99 e-book).
Chapters cover such topics as "Maximizing the Benefits of Radio," "Getting Your Music Radio Ready," and "The Process of Getting Radio Airplay."
"This book is not intended for people who treat music like a hobby," Smith writes, but rather "to teach you fundamental aspects to how radio airplay can be used to help boost your music career."
• Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at email@example.com.